Paul Haggis on Scientology: 'I was in a cult for 34 years'
Image Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesYou probably won’t find a copy of The New Yorker in the waiting room at L.A.’s Scientology Celebrity Centre this week. The latest issue includes a lengthy profile of Paul Haggis in which the 57-year-old Oscar-winning writer-director (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) discusses the religious organization of which he’d been a member for more than three decades. “I was in a cult for 34 years,” Haggis tells New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright. “Everyone could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”
Haggis broke with the Church of Scientology two years ago after he failed to convince church officials to publicly condemn Proposition 8 — the California ballot initiative outlawing gay marriage in the state — after a church member added the San Diego chapter to a list supporting the measure. (Two of Haggis’ daughters are gay.) A church official did ultimately remove the chapter from the list, but in his New Yorker interview, Haggis talks extensively about other problems he had with Scientology, including an episode several years ago in which his wife was ordered by the Church to “disconnect” from her parents “because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago.” The article also delves into aspects of Scientology’s outreach to Hollywood figures in addition to Haggis.
As The New Yorker reports, the Church has denied that it forces members to disconnect from non-believing family members — as well as some of the story’s other, more serious charges. But today, in response to the article, the Church released a further statement: “The article is little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved,” the statement reads. “It is disappointing that a magazine with the reputation of The New Yorker chose to reprint these sensationalist claims from disaffected former members hardly worthy of a tabloid.”